Carlos Sainz Jr. was happy to be back driving after the summer break and was able to finish both Friday practice sessions inside the top ten at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Spaniard, who announced during the break that he would be joining the McLaren F1 Team from 2019, was tenth fastest in the morning session before improving to eighth in the afternoon, the later session seeing the Renault Sport Formula One Team racer using the new floor the team has brought to Belgium for the first time.
“It’s great to get back into the car relaxed and refreshed,” said Sainz. “It was an uncomplicated day and we managed to follow our program quite well.
“The team brought some new parts that seem to work as expected, especially the new floor, which I tested in FP2. Good progress was made through the day.
“Spa-Francorchamps is a superb circuit so it’s great to get any laps around here and I have good feelings for the weekend ahead. Now it’s time to analyse both sessions and look for more performance with my engineers.”
Team-mate Nico Hülkenberg felt the new floor made a ‘positive difference’ to his performance after running it himself in the first practice session where he finished eighth fastest, but there is still scope for improvement ahead of Saturday’s running, although he knows he will be consigned to the back of the grid due to taking on new engine components and earning himself grid penalties.
“I think the new floor does make a positive difference and we were able to work through our programme without interruption, which is always nice,” said Hülkenberg.
“It’s pretty much a standard Friday story – we have a direction with the car and we can make it better. That’s the plan for tomorrow.”